As the sun finally begins to shine here in the UK, we start thinking about the fun we could have messing about in boats. Our brand new partners at Samboat gives us a guide to creating your own DIY cruise for wine lovers with a 5 day itinerary in Bordeaux…
When it comes to wine and cruises, there is one continent that everyone thinks of: Europe. Europe’s vineyards are among the best known in the world and within them, lies one particular place known as the holy grail for wine lovers. You guessed it: Bordeaux. From the wonders of Saint Émilion to Haut Medoc’s famous châteaux, the Bordeaux region is like a hymn to wine. Once one of Europe’s richest kingdoms, France’s Aquitaine is home to a delightful way of life, pleasantly shaped by chateaux, fabulous wines, food and great weather.
Many vineyards are located along the river and some companies have benefited from Bordeaux’s recent tourism boom by developing special wine cruises. However, those wine cruises are generally expensive and visit only mainstream vineyards. So what about a do-it-yourself cruise, where you have the chance to visit and taste some of the best hidden gems of Bordeaux? A DIY wine cruise is also less expensive and you have the added benefit of being surrounded by your loved one too.
It’s never been easier to rent your own boat, with or without skipper in the Bordeaux region. Gather your family and friends, pick your boat, book in advance your tasting session and that’s it. Easy as ABC.
Suggested Itinerary for your DIY wine cruise in Bordeaux
Day 1: Central Bordeaux
Bordeaux, also called ‘little Paris’, is the capital for wine lovers. With white and cream elegant buildings dating back to the 18th-century, Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is safe to say that wandering in this city is worth it. The Bordeaux heritage is beautifully preserved and wine history buffs will love to learn how the wine industry shaped Bordeaux. We recommend you to spend an afternoon at the Bordeaux Wine Museum. As you would have guessed, this museum is entirely dedicated to wine. It is jokingly nicknamed “Disneyland for adults”. You could also grab some bikes and do a half day bike tour of the city.
Day 2: Margaux
Head over to Margaux, located on the Garonne’s riverside, 25 km away from Bordeaux. Margaux is famous for its classified vineyards and a certain Château Margaux, which produces some of the finest wines of the region. Margaux’s AOC (Appellation Origine Controlée) area is the biggest of the region and it is worth spending some time waking around the different vineyards, which occupy thousand of acres. The village itself is typical of the southwest and hosts a lot of events during summer time. Restaurants and cafés are very welcoming. You could try a day tour of the Grand Crus here before continuing your journey by boat.
Day 3: Saint Estèphe and Pauillac
Relax on your boat and set sail to Saint Estèphe, passing thought Pauillac. Both are a lovely villages, close to each other and are the gateway to the Médoc Region. Navigating between small islands and gentle slopes, you might see some of the most splendid châteaux such as Château Pichon or Château Latour. Try to visit at least one of them! Less famous, but not less pretty, is ChâteauLafon-Rochet, perched on the highest hill of Saint Estèphe. The wine cellar is incredible and the Tesseron family (who own the château) will be pleased to let you taste their wine.
Day 4: Blaye and Bourg
In the morning, set sail to Blaye, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 17th century citadel built by the famous architect, Vauban, was used to defend the Gironde estuary from invaders. Nowadays, you can book a private guide and explore the 30 acres of fortifications.
During the afternoon, you could head over to Bourg and rent a bike from the tourist office to discover the surroundings and the village. Make sure to spend a few hours relaxing at the lovely restaurants where the cuisine is astonishing. On Sundays, the village has a farmer’s market. During this time, the atmosphere is bustling as the calm village transforms itself on an animated yet pleasant place.
Day 5: Libourne and Saint Emilion
Libourne is ideally located close to the Pomerol wine area and Saint Emilion. A beautiful old market welcomes foodies and curious people looking for a typical French market. As the city centre of Bordeaux attracts most of the tourists of the region, you will have the feeling of having this place to yourself! Libourne is well worth spending a morning exploring it.
Saint Emilion is a must-see. This city itself is a huge wine estate. Everything in Saint Emilion is wine-oriented, from beautiful vineyards to remarkable architecture, visiting this southwest gem will be part of your best memories. Here are some people who can help you do just that with an afternoon tour around Saint Emilion.